Is it possible for anyone to support the claim that nothing abnormal is happening in Turkey nowadays? A constitutional amendment was made on Sept. 12, 2010. The aim was to remove the residue of the Sept. 12, 1980 coup, to put an end to undemocratic tutelage of the justice system and thus elevate Turkey to an “advanced democracy.”

The end result? Turkey has become a country where the judicial system is held hostage by an overwhelming parliamentary majority that has replaced pluralistic democracy with majoritarian rule. Not only did the minister and his undersecretary remain on the Judges and Prosecutors High Board (HSYK), and thus political influence continued intact after the amendment, the board’s new post-amendment structure provided the government, or a certain political-Islamist ideology, to dominate it. Thus, whatever the previous tutelage on the justice system was, it was replaced with the tutelage of a conservative and Islamist ideology.

The changes at the Constitutional Court have also helped the government do away with the need to conform to constitutional principles, such as equality before the law or the prohibition that no “special” law serving only certain individuals can be legislated. It can be argued from now that although the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has not yet passed through parliament a special law empowering the prime minister to provide judicial shield to top bureaucrats - including the head of the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MİT), Hakan Fidan - if the opposition takes the clause to the high court to demand its annulment, the revamped top court would certainly turn down such a demand.

Indeed if a “prosecutor with special powers” – who has been so highly appreciated by the ruling AKP over the past years because of his extraordinary success in netting alleged members of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK, alleged urban wing of the PKK) – did not “exceed his limits” and invited Fidan and some retired top spies to testify “as suspects” in connection with the KCK investigation, the AKP government was rather happy with the highly politicized “courts with special powers” system.

Why shouldn’t it? It was with the investigations ordered or judicial cases opened by those special courts that most of the opponents were silenced; either banished to the Silivri concentration camp or scared so much that they became imprisoned in their own heads. On the other hand, the same special courts helped the Islamist brotherhood supportive of the government get away with the Lighthouse Islamist charity fraud case, described by a German court as the greatest charity scam they have ever seen.

Since 2008 Turkey has been living extraordinary times. Professors, journalists, businessmen, active and retired officers, even a former chief of general staff are being placed behind bars. Worse, these people have all been accused of being members of a “terrorist gang.” Several of the people detained on grounds they were a “terrorist gang” have died in prison, some have been at the Silivri concentration camp for more than four years without being sentenced.

As the prime minister once said: Those who insist on not taking sides (with the government) are being pushed aside one way or another.